The show must go on.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes — and this isn’t a metaphor; we’re talkin’ real ashes here — the Stowe Theatre Guild overcame a devastating fire to put on one of its best seasons in recent memory.
In early April, a fire destroyed part of the Stoware Common building, which displaced half a dozen businesses and destroyed an extensive collection of costumes, sets and props stored there by the Stowe Theatre Guild.
The fire came two months before the theater company was scheduled to raise the curtain on “Godspell,” the first of four productions in the 2019 season.
In the days and weeks after the fire, area theater companies ranging from Stowe High School to the Lamoille County Players offered to share their props, costumes and sets. At the same time, the guild launched a fundraising effort, collecting $27,000 — including $10,000 from the Springer-Miller Family Foundation — by the time the curtain was raised on June 12 for the season-opening production.
The season continued with “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Mamma Mia!” and closed the season with “A Few Good Men.”
The 2020 season will open June 10 with “A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder” and will continue with “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Bullets Over Broadway” and “A Little Night Music.”
While one theater company overcame tragedy, another chose to close its doors, when the Waterbury Festival Playhouse — central Vermont’s only semiprofessional theater company — dimmed the house lights for the last time.
For 12 years, George and Ginger Pierce staged productions in their 150-seat black-box-style theater on Route 100. The unique structure, with its fabric walls and tent-like shape, had long been a draw for theater patrons who wanted to see some of the best productions the region has to offer, culminating with the last show in 2018 — Tracy Lett’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “August: Osage County.”
So confident were the Pierces in their productions that they offered something uncommon for a theater company — if you didn’t enjoy the show, they would give you a refund.
The sense of professionalism extended to paying the performers, unlike community theater.